In a saga that has been relatively up in the air since July of this year, some closure has finally been given to fight-fans by USADA on the future of former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Jones was infamously pulled from July’s historical UFC 200 card just days before he was due to take on his rival Daniel Cormier for the 205lb belt. It was found that he had failed an out-of-competition drug test administered by USADA on June 16th.
The omission of Jones from the card caused public outrage, with it not being the first time that the formerly dominant champion has had run-ins with the authorities. Last year, Jones was stripped of his title after being found to have been involved in a hit-and-run in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one that reportedly injured a pregnant woman.
Jones supposedly fled the scene on foot but later turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
His ban from MMA lasted a year and when he returned to contention with a win over Ovince St. Preux, it looked as though Jones was set to get his chance at UFC gold once more. But alas, disaster struck again and despite pleas of innocence and seemingly genuine distressed address of the media in the days that followed, Jones was frozen out of the MMA world once more.
Now, amid claims from Jones that it, was in fact, a tainted sexual performance drug that caused the failure of his test, USADA have released a statement on the future of Jon Jones, informing the world that he will be punished with a one-year ban from competition, sidelining him until July of 2017.
“On the evidence before the Panel, the Applicant is not a drug cheat. He did not know that the tablet he took contained prohibited substances or that those substances had the capacity to enhance sporting performance. However by his imprudent use of what he pungently referred to as a ‘dick pill’ he has not only lost a year of his career, but an estimated nine million dollars. This outcome which he admits to be a wake-up call for him should serve as a warning to all others who participate in the same sport.” Via Bloody Elbow.
When Jones does finally make his return, the landscape of the 205lb division could look very different to how it does now. Another down-side to this is that current-champ Daniel Cormier will now more-than-likely be deprived of his chance to avenge his sole loss in MMA and solidify his legacy not just to fight fans, but to himself.
It seems as though the powers-that-be at USADA do wish to make an example of Jones, and with his track-record perhaps it would be wise to give him the wake-up call the statement eludes to.
In the hours that followed this statement, the UFC have released a statement of their own. In this release, they acknowledge the reasoning behind the punishment and mention briefly the importance of the care that needs to be taken by top level athletes when putting anything into your body that might hinder your chances in a drug test.
“UFC is aware of the one-year sanction levied against Jon Jones as a result of his UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation, decided by a three-person arbitration panel held on Monday, October 31, 2016. UFC has been advised that the one-year suspension commenced on Wednesday, July 6, 2016. While the decision indicates no evidence of Jones’ intentional use of banned substances, it does highlight the care and diligence that is required by athletes competing in the UFC to ensure that no prohibited substances enter their system.”
No statement has been made by Jon Jones or his camp at this stage.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena